The New York Jets brought a merciful end to the Sam Darnold era on Monday afternoon.
With new head coach Robert Saleh eyeing a fresh start with BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, the Jets traded Darnold, whom the New England Patriots frequently teed off on, to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and two picks, second- and fourth-rounders, in the 2022 Draft.
Darnold, drafted third overall in 2019, was supposed to be the savior that ended the Jets’ decades of frustration at the quarterback position.
Some initial promise during his rookie season was ruined in conjunction with Adam Gase, as he never figured out how to fix his issues with turning the ball over.
The Jets went 13-25 in games Darnold started, and the former USC star threw just 45 touchdown passes against 39 interceptions in his first three seasons in the league.
Darnold getting traded out of the division is by no means a needle-mover for the Jets, who were expected to be poor once again as they work on rebuilding this franchise.
The Patriots, however, might end up as indirect beneficiaries of this swap.
What does the Sam Darnold trade mean for the Patriots?
The biggest direct consequence for New England is the fact that the Jets are going all-in on Saleh and Wilson. No more worrying about Darnold “seeing ghosts” or getting pounded into the dirt by Belichick on a biannual basis. Wilson might go through rookie growing pains, but his ceiling is as high as any young quarterback.
If the Patriots do have their minds set on drafting a quarterback, Carolina adding Darnold means that Trey Lance or Mac Jones has a higher chance of dropping down to them. With Carolina having exercised the fifth-year option here, they are committing to their new man under center for the long haul.
The Panthers also appear ready to move on from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who put up solid numbers that were still a tad underneath what OC Joe Brady and head coach Matt Rhule expected for someone as well-compensated as he is. The Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints could be potential landing spots, but could New England make a run after him?
Darnold might have more success in Carolina, and Belichick’s defense had him so confused that his legendarily bad Monday Night Football game made him a meme online, but this might actually help the Patriots down the line, as it gives them even more ways to attack the quarterback position.